Spending after separation

I saw this Australian case in the press this week and was reminded of several cases where one party has decided to go on a spending spree following the decision to separate.

Unfortunately this can force the other spouse to take drastic action to freeze or preserve assets, which can only be done by a court application and forces litigation which may have otherwise been unnecessary.

The court will look at unnecessary or exaggerated spending and if the conduct of the spender is behaviour that should have an impact on the division of assets. This is often argued when spending is linked to gambling, drinking, drugs or spending on a new partner or prostitute.

When it was put to him that his claimed post-separation spending spree was really a strategy to disguise the fact that he retained substantial cash, Mr Asher insisted he spent the money on services for “prostitution, prostitution, prostitution” which, he was keen to point out, were very expensive services
Abusers to be barred from interrogating their victims in court

The Ministry of Justice has announced plans for legislation to prevent perpetrators of domestic abuse from directly cross-examining their victims in family court hearings. Similar rules already exist in the criminal courts. 

Judges, journalists and opposition MPs have highlighted numerous harrowing cases, and this seems to have prompted the government to promise urgent, and welcome, action. Family lawyers will be monitoring their proposals closely.

Ministers want ban on abusers questioning victims in family court
Woman leads fight to keep divorce hearings secret

We are awaiting this judgement on whether media coverage of family proceedings should be allowed.  With senior judges divided about policy, any judgement in favour of allowing media into proceedings will inevitably push more couples away from the courts and towards using Arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution such as mediation instead.  Our clients already fully use the range of resolution options we offer.

A divorcee who is fighting her former husband for a bigger payout is seeking to prevent press coverage in a case that could lead to similar disputes being shrouded in secrecy.
There are some helpful pointers here

The Moneywise guide to divorce                                   

For people facing up to the reality of divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership, understanding how the finances will work when they are on their own can feel like one of the biggest worries of all.Basic maths tells you that running two homes and paying two sets of bills will cost more than a single household, and the reality is that many people do find their finances constrained after divorce. That is why it is essential to create a clear financial plan if you are heading towards a separation.
Further NHS IVF cuts proposed

Croydon and Eastern Cheshire are the latest NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) reported to be planning to reduce access to fertility treatment.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that couples should be entitled to three 'rounds' of IVF treatment on the NHS. Eastern Cheshire, like many other areas, now plans to offer only one. Croydon already offers only one, and now plans to effectively eliminate publicly funded fertility treatment completely. 

Unfortunately, given the apparent political paralysis over the funding crisis in the NHS, we should expect these cuts to continue, causing enormous pain for numerous prospective parents.   

The NHS in Croydon wants your opinion on plans to cut IVF for all couples in the borough
On Divorce is your business protected?

We at Freeths regularly deal with family cases where the parties are in business together so contact us for early advice.

A divorce is one of those things you don’t anticipate, plan or want to be party to. It’s tough to go through, especially when children are involved, but throw a business into the mix and there will be even more to consider.
Raising the pension age

Fortunately a proposed raise in the pension age to 70 has been advised against.

Raising pension age to 70 blasted in new report highlighting UK's growing rich-poor divide among an ageing population
Great Expectations for Digital Divorce

We are in a time of change for the family law system.  Yesterday the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, described our current system as being 'moored in the world of the late Mr Charles Dickens'. 

He was speaking to the Family Law Bar Association and setting out steps being taken to create an online system for divorce proceedings, which would bring an end to sending divorce documents, including divorce petitions and marriage certificates, to the court.  The government are yet to comment on this.

Given the realities of the world we live in today, where online activity is a day to day part of our lives, you might be surprised it has taken so long for the court systems to go online.  I rather suspect that the move will not happen overnight, despite promises that the first entirely digitised divorce cases will begin this year. 

The introduction will also need to be well thought through and streamlined.  Our team are already successfully filing a lot of our court documents by email, even certain applications to start proceedings. However we have already seen lots of 'teething' troubles with the relatively recent system of centralising the processing of divorce petitions to certain regional centres, causing long delays in divorces at the moment.

We will have to see whether this move increases pressure for a no fault divorce to be introduced, as has been predicted by some commentators.  

In the meantime, there is no doubt that Sir James Munby has his sights set on pushing the family law system into the digital age.

Divorces will take place over mobile phones or laptops from next year, Britain’s most senior family law judge said yesterday.

An online system for ending a marriage will mean neither husband, wife, nor the judge will need to be in a courtroom.
Parents unwilling to leave assets to their children because of fear of divorce

Research by financial services firm Investec has suggested that almost a third of parents have avoided passing on wealth to a child, either during their lifetimes or via their wills, because they fear that the money will leave the family as a result of the child divorcing. 

Instead, some are bypassing their children to leave legacies to their grandchildren instead, or setting up trust arrangements to try to protect wealth from leaving the family in the event of a divorce. Another option would be for the son or daughter to enter into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement ring-fencing any gifted or inherited funds. 

If you need advice on any of these issues, please do get in touch. 

Risk of divorce puts parents off leaving inheritance
The stress of debt on marriage and divorce

Often debts and financial issues are quoted as one of the detailed unreasonable behaviour facts cited in divorce petitions. Unfortunately, unravelling the debts can more more difficult than sharing any assets, as often neither party can afford to pay them.

Some of the debts can relate to cost of living and unfortunate circumstances. In short marriages there is often debt left following extravagant weddings.

The pressure on couples to stage increasingly expensive “fairytale” weddings is now so great that some are now still trying to pay off the bills when they get divorced, family lawyers claim.
'Tis the Season for Divorce?

The media tends to exaggerate the level of post-Christmas marriage breakdowns, and labelling the first working day in January 'Divorce Day' is quite misleading. However, most family lawyers would agree that there is usually a noticeable increase in new enquiries in January. This is generally attributed to the stress of the Christmas period, and the fact that couples tend to spend more time together at this time of year and this can prompt them to realise that their relationship is not what it once was. However, this might not be the best time to be making such life-changing decisions. 

‘Tis the season for divorce – but perhaps we should think twice
Pakistan joins convention on child abduction

Pakistan has become the 96th State to join the Hague Convention on Child Abduction 1980. 

The 1980 treaty provides a procedure to bring about the prompt return of children taken overseas in order to protect them from abduction, but it only applies between contracting states so it is good news when additional states join.

That said, prevention is always better than cure.  If you suspect there is any risk that a child might be being taken overseas without the agreement of everyone with parental responsibility, it is important that you seek immediate specialist legal advice so that prompt protective action can be taken.  This is a service our team provides.

On 22 December 2016, Pakistan deposited its instrument of accession to the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and thus became the 96th Contracting State to the Convention. The Convention will enter into force for Pakistan on 1 March 2017.
Millionaire seeks greater share in divorce because he says he is a 'genius'

A panel of judges in the Court of Appeal is to be asked to grapple with the meaning of the word "genius" in the case of a multimillionaire husband seeking a bigger slice of the wealth he once shared with his wife in a divorce settlement. 

Randy Work, an American financier, is seek to overturn as order at the High Court last year awarding his estranged wife, Mandy Gray, half of a fortune, totalling more than £140 million.

The husbands lawyers will argue that his performance as an investor was so stellar that the usual principle of dividing assets half and half in divorce settlements should be put aside.
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